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Eye-catching and bold, out-of-home (OOH) advertising was one of the earliest forms of advertising and represents an excellent way for businesses to attract the attention of a mass audience.  The medium is particularly effective for local advertisers who want to build name recognition within the marketplace, but top national brands in telecommunications, finance, retail, real estate, and food services also rely heavily on this medium.

  • OOH advertising revenue experienced a decrease of 45 percent in the second quarter of 2020, which accounted for $1.48B.

(Source: Outdoor Advertising Association of America, 2020)

  • Leading out-of-home advertising categories in the U.S. as of Q2 2020, by ad spending in thousands
    • 831K - misc. services and amusements
    • 317K - retail
    • 297K - media and advertising
    • 230K - insurance and real estate
    • 227K - restaurants
    • 200K - public transport, hostels and resorts
    • 197K - financial
    • 137K - schools, camps & seminars 
    • 130K - automotive dealers and services

(Source: Kantar Media; Miller Kaplin; OAAA, 2020)

This huge category is divided into four sectors, covering an array of advertising options listed below with the number of displays for each in 2020:

  • Billboards
    • Bulletins – 164,370
    • Digital Billboards – 9,600
    • Posters – 147,029
    • Junior Posters 19,818
    • Walls/Spectaculars – 2,289
  • Street Furniture
    • Bus Shelters – 63,239
    • Urban Furniture - 39,128
      • Bus Benches
      • Newsracks
      • Newsstands
      • Phone Kiosks
      • Urban Panels
    • Digital St. Furniture – 5,742
  • Transit
    • Airports – 29,476
    • Digital Airports – 2,350
    • Buses – 1.05MM
    • Retail/Subway – 365,113
    • Digital Rail/Subway – 5,454
    • Digital Transit - 7,847
    • Mobile Billboards - 514
    • Taxis – 44,008
    • Digital Taxis – 33,800
    • Truck Side – 3,501
  • Place-Based OOH
    • Arenas & Stadiums - 961
    • Cinema – 35,800
    • Digital Place-Based Networks – 1.25MM
    • Interior Place-Based
      • Convenience Stores
      • Health Clubs
      • Restaurants/Bars
    • Exterior Place-Based
      • Airborne
      • Marine
      • Resorts & Leisure
    • Shopping Malls – 21,700
    • Digital Shopping Malls – 5,830

(Source: Outdoor Advertising Association of America, 2020)

  • Level of attention paid to digital billboards as of March 2020: 
    • All the time: 19%
    • Most of the time: 31%
    • Sometimes: 38%
    • Almost never: 10%
    • Not sure/never: 2% 
  • Actions taken as a reaction to seeing digital billboard ads:
    • Visited website/searched online: 34%
    • Visited advertised store, restaurant, other business: 32%
    • Saw advertised movie or TV show: 25%
    • Visited social media site: 23%
    • Recommended product/brand: 18%
    • Attended advertised sporting event, festival, concert: 17%
  • Level of attention paid to digital OOH mobile billboards:
    • All the time: 25%
    • Most of the time: 32%
    • Sometimes: 32%
    • Almost never: 8%
    • Not sure/never: 3%
  • Actions taken as a reaction to seeing mobile digital OOH billboard ads:
    • Visited website/searched online: 35%
    • Visited advertised store, restaurant, other business: 35%
    • Saw advertisied movie or TV show: 28%
    • Visited social media site: 28%
    • Attended advertised sporting event, festival, concert: 23%
    • Recommended product/brand: 20%

(Source: Statista; Nielsen; OAAA, August 2020)

Digital billboards are on the rise and are the fastest growing in the OOH category among traditional billboards, street furniture, transit and place based. In the first half of 2020, there were approximately 9,600 Digital billboards as opposed to 6,700 digital billboards in 2016. That equates to a 43.3% increase over that time period.

  • In 2020, Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) will account for 1/3 of total DOOH ad spending.
    • As of the first half of 2020, there are 5,742 digital street furniture ad placements, 7,847 digital trasit displays and 5,830 digital shopping mall placements. 
    • Digital billboards are the most common type of DOOH advertising.

(Source: eMarketer, June 2020) 

OOH revenue

  • According to Statista, as of October 2020, traditional OOH advertising spend hit $20,436MM while digital OOH advertising spend hit $16,623MM. 

(Source: Statista, October 2020)

  • Billboards generated approximately 1,217.2MM in revenue for OOH advertising
    • Transit generated 156.6MM
    • Placed-based generated 51.7MM
    • Street furniture generated 51.7MM

(Source: OAAA, OOH by Format Q2 2020)

  • OOH industry growth and future success are predicated on a number of factors:
    • Mobile consumers who are outside their homes most of the day
    • Cost efficiency versus other media
    • Innovations (primarily digital) that bolster the value of OOH advertising
    • Less fragmented than many other media
    • Recent introduction of a new ratings system to facilitate buying

High Frequency:
  • Drivers may pass well-placed billboards on a daily basis, with frequent exposure resulting in recall
  • Passengers on mass transit, many other locations where advertising is placed are a captive audience, often for prolonged periods of time
Broad Reach: Offer potential for exposure among majority of consumers in their area
Billboards can direct prospective customers to a store, business or restaurant address
Attention Grabbers:
  • Large billboards can make a strong impact based on size, color, illumination
  • Video boards are enhanced eyecatchers
Constantly Visible: Exposure to messaging is available 24/7
Digital OOH technology allows consumers to connect via digital devices to obtain more information, connect with advertiser's site, even shop instantly
Can build word-of-mouth by generating curiosity in "teaser" campaigns
Relatively cost efficient per unit compared to broadcast, print and digital media
OOH in airports, offices enjoy exposure to more upscale audiences
Cinema advertising typically delivers highly desirable teens and younger adults with disposable incomes
Place-based advertising reaches consumers at the point of sale

Delivers mass audience but affords no demographic targeting capabilities
Fleeting Impressions for billboards
  • Exposure time is very short, typically 4-8 seconds
  • Exposure expanded if located near traffic intersection or areas where tie-ups occur
Difficult to measure exposure
  • OAAA and Traffic Audit Bureau (TAB) initiated audited traffic counts for posters
  • Typical visibility count ranges between 40-70%
Even those who see the creative are probably not fully engaged as they focus on other activities such as driving, limiting attention and recall
Consumers' concentration on mobile phones may supplant any attention to billboards, other formats including site placed
Copy Limitations: Creative must be brief and direct to account for short exposure times
Inflexible: Once a message is up, it generally stays up through the duration of the contract, even if the advertiser's needs have changed. Additionally, printing is expensive and may take weeks to produce and replace a display (New digital boards lessen this, but currently represent only a small percentage of OOH faces)
Creative can be easily damaged by weather or be vandalized
Poor Image: Government and environmental issues threaten OOH in some areas, limiting potential sites for placement
Clutter: In some markets or areas of markets there are so many billboards that individual messages may be swallowed up by the clutter; potential for new venues is virtually unlimited (elevators, bathrooms, etc.)

Limited programmatic advertising buys, which makes DOOH less scalable channel compared to more established digital channels. 

(Source: Forrester, Weigh The Pros And Cons Of 11 Emerging Marketing Channels, 2020)


In combination, radio and OOH deliver a balance of sight and sound to an on-the-go audience
Radio adds frequency to the reach of an OOH message that the consumer might see only once (or once a day) on a billboard
Few radio listeners frequently change stations while in their cars, so a targeted message on radio can effectively supplement mass exposure to OOH creative
Combining radio with an outdoor campaign will increase reach and recall:
  • Radio signals cover the market, outdoor messages are available only where displayed
  • Radio travels with the consumer as they go about their daily routines and in all locations – at home, at work, and especially in cars
  • Radio+OOH increases range and frequency to increase recall
Most OOH advertising is fixed and remains in place for a pre-set period of time. Radio ad copy can be changed quickly, so messaging changes can be implemented to supplement or clarify OOH
OOH ads can tweak consumer's curiosity; radio ads will complement by delivering details
Inclement weather or adverse traffic conditions can adversely impact exposure to OOH advertising, but radio listening actually increases under these circumstances. American consumers depend on their car radios for weather and traffic reports, so OOH and radio make an effective drive-time combination every day.


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